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  • Writer's pictureMike Culton

Turning Good Copy into Great Copy

And why the copy-bots can't help you

Good copy effectively demonstrates the value and advantages of a company’s products and services. It answers, “what” as well as “why” for the potential customer. Great copy answers two more questions: "so what" and "why should I care?" These elements tend to elicit an emotional response that connects with readers on a more personal level.

Reinforcing brand messaging with an authentic voice requires thoughtful planning and a targeted execution. Although technological advances can help business leaders create a consistent volume of content focused on answering “what,” a living and breathing writer is still needed to provide context, an emotional hook, and a personality to make strong brands truly exceptional.

Engineering a Brand Personality

This process is more challenging than it seems. Business leaders in the recreation and hospitality industries likely advise their copywriters to keep their content light and fun. Light and fun are not personalities unto themselves, however. Having a consistent tone is an important factor in crafting great copy but it needs to stem from an innate brand personality.

The two most influential contributors to a brand's personality are the company’s values and the target customer profile.

The team that manufactures paddles for whitewater rafting didn’t just go into business for the sole purpose of cornering the market in recreational marine sports equipment. They probably formed a deep connection with the activity and the lifestyle surrounding it. After years of experience with mediocre equipment, they discovered a way to improve the overall experience with an innovative paddle design with ergonomic grips.

You know who might really like these new paddles? Whitewater newbies that need more comfortable grips and a built-in reminder about proper hand position. According to research, young adults in college are the most likely to take their first trip downriver and the five most popular states for whitewater rafting are Colorado, Tennessee, North Carolina, and West Virginia. What river are the river outfitters and guides doing in these states and how do they communicate? What does a 19-year old sophomore with an adventurous spirit who loves the outdoors look like and why should they care about the gear that outfitters provide?

Combined with the passion for what you do, the answers to these types of questions shape the brand’s identity and form the strategic messaging that reinforces it. The brand’s digital presence mirrors the style and personality of the target customer. For B2B companies, this can be a layered process.

"This new paddle is perfect for your outfitting business and it’s designed to improve the overall experience for new rafters that value comfort and dependability."

The Expression of Brand Messaging

The brand’s personality provides the authentic voice and structured messaging delivers the results. This is the copywriter’s time to shine. Equipped with the right voice and target audience, the copywriter’s sole objective is to connect with as many readers as possible in the shortest amount of time.

What does that 19-year old sophomore out with a group of co-eds fear most about his first time out on the river? Is it the violent, churning water? Being flung towards huge jagged rocks? Not knowing how to swim? No, it’s none of those things–he doesn’t want to look stupid in front of his friends, especially the cute freshman that signed up last minute. The very first line of copy can address this mortal fear.

"Get a grip and take command. Cut through raging water with impenetrable confidence and BladeChamp’s newest paddles featuring no-slip grips."

The central theme here is “you got this.” The product features and differentiators come later, or better yet, they are explained in a graphic or descriptive image. Keep a laser focus on the target customer to resolve his or her fears, wants, and desires. Great copy always leads with instincts; aiming to win over the heart and soul. The appeal to logic and reasoning supplements the emotional hook. Whether in long form or short taglines, these principles apply because ultimately copywriters are trying to build rapport with individual prospects using the personification of the brand itself.

A Turing Test for Your Audience

Copywriting is a core function for most businesses as well-crafted messaging boosts engagement, converts prospective customers, and acts as an expression of the company’s values. Writing original content that’s interesting enough to capture people’s attention in this chaotic digital age is a tough task that requires constant effort and creative problem solving. Unsurprisingly, the AI tech gurus have developed several tools to automate copywriting in an attempt to alleviate that burden.

These copy-bots are machine-learning algorithms that comb blog posts, news items, and articles that get traffic and earn high engagement. Then, the bot replicates the combined style, tone, syntax, and phraseology and pairs it with user-defined topics, terms, and keywords. The output is a body of SEO-optimized text that reads fairly well but may need some tune-up in order to fix awkward phrases. The selling point is that the copy-bot can provide instant content with minimal user effort, all for a monthly subscription fee.

Although the bots are trained to avoid plagiarism, nothing they produce is original, innovative, or designed to understand the complexities of human nature.

AI copywriters may help with short-term fixes such as updating website copy and product descriptions. They can’t replace human writers who can formulate content strategy, brand identity, and a consistent line of rapport-building messaging.

Insta-copy may be able to pass the digital marketing Turing Test but only at the surface level. The copy is as static and two-dimensional as AI-generated faces. It looks human but it can never change or adapt to the world around it. Especially in an age when people have been marketed to since birth, we can quickly see through anodyne marketing speak and pitchy language. Fast-paced, modern audiences are less likely to connect with lifeless words and flat images.

The “don’t be boring” principle overrides everything and brings out your brand’s color. The machines can’t help you find your voice and build your brand but talented copywriters with a brain and a beating heart certainly can. Content marketing pros like Vector West have knack for research, storytelling, and crafting a consistent, on-brand message. Let potential customers meet the real you.

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